Laura Ekholm

As an economic and social historian, I am interested in the many ways people exist within and shape their societies, including how individuals, families and organizations navigate and negotiate social relationships, and how their values, knowledge and skills when applied into action drive societal change. I approach the “big questions” of social science history by looking at local actors, such as small-scale entrepreneurs, religious minorities and migrant-background families. Our discipline typically aims to reconstruct multigenerational timelines.

My doctoral thesis (2013) studied the small Jewish community of Helsinki. I examined on the one hand the occupational structure to analyze changes in the social position of the community in Finland. On the other hand, I analyzed the different aspects of how the position of Helsinki Jews hass been narrated. I have also written about the role of the “Jewish” second-hand trade for the emerging Finnish ready-to-wear trade and industry. I am currently studying entrepreneurs in the ready-to-wear industry in Sweden and Finland. In the clothing industry, the companies tend to be so small that business-owners and their firms are inseparable. My aim is to reconsider “modernity” by focusing on a field of business with multiple small firms with embedded social networks and family relations. One important aspect to the study is home-based industrial work. I aim to reconsider concepts such as “ethnic entrepreneur” or “female business-owner”.